An old oak tree was cut down in the parking lot of a shopping center on the 19300 block of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country last week, prompting objections from some residents who saw the tree as part of the neighborhood’s charm.
As per local law, any old-growth oaks in the city of Santa Clarita require a permit to be taken down, but this tree was granted an exemption due to the extent of its rot and the anticipated storm, according to Kevin Strauss, a spokesman for the city.
Strauss said the city had been monitoring the tree and that although the process to remove an old oak usually takes some time, this tree was granted an exception to expedite that process following an inspection that calculated its rot to be at 95%.
With the anticipated winds coming, caused by Tropical Storm Kay, Strauss said the city decided to let the property owners remove the tree so that it “didn’t create any greater threat if it were to fail.”
Some local residents are lamenting the tree’s removal, and say it held immense sentimental value to those who grew up in the area.
“When I grew up there, the tree had a lot of meaning to it — in that town,” said Gary Bower. “When there was a disaster, like when the big fire that was, I think it was 1970… they had a lot of people meet at the tree, made sure they were safe at the tree.”
Bower said the tree was a meet-up point for local residents, and it also was a local landmark.
“If [people] got lost, family members that were visiting the town, they would meet at the tree. The tree has a lot of significance to that town and especially from what I remember too, was Christmas time,” said Bower. “They would put lights on the tree… that carnival [had] rides and they would have it around the tree, Frontier Days. That tree meant a lot to people.”
Bower said many residents wished the city had communicated the reason behind its removal and the date it was to be taken down, so that local residents could get one last glimpse or picture of the tree they grew up with.
“There’s a lot of very upset people. I guess they didn’t spread the word throughout, however they communicate in [Santa Clarita] nowadays,” said Bower. “I’m not sure but nobody knew that this was going to happen and I guess a lot of people wanted to at least, you know, get one more look at it. You know, maybe go there one more time.”